A Very British Cake

13 Jun

Image courtesy of BBC GoodFood

A simple and delicious sponge that is fit for a Queen.

Almost everyone’s first introduction to baking would be the classic sponge cake.   Whether made into fairy cakes, a zesty lemon drizzle or made a little bit sexy with some cocoa powder and chocolate frosting, the sponge cake is the most versatile and widely baked cake in Britain.  Perhaps the most truly ‘British’ version of this simple tea-time treat would be the ‘Victoria Sponge’, and just the thought of this tasty cake brings feelings of nostalgia.

Named after Queen Victoria, the ‘Victoria Sponge’ is traditionally a simple sponge cake made from eggs, flour, fat and sugar, with a generous helping of raspberry jam and whipped double or vanilla cream sandwiched between two sponge layers.  Finished with a dusting of icing sugar, this simple yet delicious cake is a coffee-table staple.

So how did this tasty cake get its name?  During her reign, Queen Victoria and her maids-in waiting enjoyed many tea parties, and this delicious sponge was the Queen’s favourite. A sponge by any other name would taste as sweet, but only a sponge cake with raspberry jam and whipped cream can be called a Victoria Sponge.  The Women’s Institute are also very particular about what it takes to be a Victoria sponge, and their version only has jam and is dusted with caster sugar instead of the more traditional icing sugar.

Even though this very British cake is very simple to make, it is also very easy to go horribly wrong!  With extremely sensitive cooking times and temperatures, the perfect sponge cake is an art that even established bakers can get wrong sometimes.  As such, the Victoria sponge is used by manufacturers to test their new ovens to make sure they work perfectly.  Good news for those who get to eat it afterwards!

Whether you are a traditionalist or like your cakes with something a little bit special, you can’t deny the Victoria Sponge is a perfect treat for any occasion.  It’s so easy to make, so what’s stopping you?  Check out BBC GoodFood for their simple recipe, or Delia Smith’s traditional offering with a few alternative suggestions.

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Polyday 2012

11 Jun

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This weekend London plays host to Polyday, a one day event celebrating the world of polyamory and the non-monogamous relationship.  Whether you are interested in learning more or a fully fledged member of the poly community, there is something for everyone at Polyday.  It is a day to explore, to learn and to share.  At the Dragon’s Hall, London, you  can feed your curiosity about a new lifestyle or just meet like-minded people and celebrate a diverse community.

The day is split into two; during the day, there will be a number of workshops and discussions on a variety of topics.  Session One in the Main Hall is Poly 101, a fantastic introduction for all those of you new to polyamory, or if you are more interested in the longevity of the poly lifestyle, head to the Green Room for Poly 201. With five sessions over eight hours, including Tantra, Poly and Kink, Dealing with Poly in the Media and a workshop that involves dance, with a break for dinner before the evening events, there is plenty to get involved in.

In the evening, a shift from learning to socialising takes place.  Bring your favourite tipple and take the chance to meet the volunteers and have a dance or two with some great music. Or if you fancy just relaxing, other rooms are available away from the excitement in the main hall.

This will be a great day to lean more and explore the work of Polyamory, in a non-judgemental, comfortable and accepting environment in a fantastic central London location. 

Tickets are £15 (£10 concessions), to get yours and to find out more about Polyday just head to their website.

Never Hide. Be Bold. Be You.

4 Jun

News Bite: The Ray-Ban advertisement campaign that celebrates LGBT in style.

Ray-Ban’s ‘Never Hide’ campaign celebrating its 75th anniversary

The stylish and iconic eyewear manufacturer Ray Ban has released a series of advertisements to celebrate its 75th anniversary, including one featuring a gay couple which has caused Ray Ban to receive well deserved praise from the LGBT  community.
A press release from the company states ‘the most fashionable thing you can be is yourself; be authentic, real, bold and stylish…never pretend. Never be afraid. Never give up. Never hide.’
Ray Ban’s ‘Never Hide’ campaign slogan ‘Be Bold. Be You’ embodies  some of the values that CCK holds, celebrating individuality, acceptance and how being yourself is pretty awesome, no matter what age, race, gender or sexuality you happen to be.
The ‘Never Hide’ campaign was developed by Marcel, a French ad agency, and is inspired by real people and real stories, emphasising the message that being yourself and being authentic is fashionable.
It’s fantastic to see a obviously gay-inclusive advertisement  from a internationally renowned brand such as Ray-Ban, and CCK is excited to see the positive responses Ray-Ban have received following this.  To read more about the ‘Never Hide’ campaign and the gay couple ad, check out Ray-Ban and The Huffington Post.

Just in time for the Jubilee

2 Jun

Want to whip up a batch of delightfully delicious jubilee inspired cupcakes with a hidden surprise?  Just follow a few easy steps and you can have a plate full of these in just a short amount of time. Lemony goodness, rich buttercream and a swirl of colour all make these cupcakes perfect for a jubilee party, or a special treat.

Basic Cake Recipe adapted from Love Bakery’s Lemon Cupcakes, decoration inspired by Bakergirl’s Blog

For the cakes (makes 12):
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
zest of one lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs, at room temperature
125g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
raspberry jam

For the jubilee frosting:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
red food colouring
blue food colouring

To make the cakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/Gas Mark 4 and line the holes of a muffin tin with muffin cases.

2. Add the butter, caster sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest to an electric mixer (or use a hand held mixer) and cream together for 7 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix for 2 minutes.

4. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, then add to the mixer and mix until incorporated. Add milk and mix for a further minute.


6. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cakes.

7. Bake for 25 minutes, until the sponge is bouncy, lightly browned and a skewer comes out clean.

8. Remove the baked cupcakes from the oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack. Leave to cool.


9. Once completely cool, use an apple corer to remove a small piece from the middle of the cake.


10. Using a knife, poke in roughly 1sp of raspberry jam into the hole, and replace the piece of cake you removed.

To make the buttercream frosting:
1. Cream the butter and vanilla extract together in the mixer for 2 minutes until light and fluffy

2. Add the icing sugar and milk, and using a wooden spoon, mix slowly until just incorporated (this stops the icing sugar floating out of the bowl).

3. Using the electric mixer, mix for a further 2 minutes until well blended.

4. Divide the frosting into three, and using the food colouring, add drops one at a time until you get the colour you want.

How to frost your cupcakes (for a more detailed explanation of mastering the three-tone frosting technique, check out Bakergirl’s blog):
1. Place the icing into three separate icing bags, making them into long and thin sausage shapes so they all fit into a one big icing bag.


2. Place your chosen icing tip into the bottom of the bag, and then add your three frostings so they are all equally placed.  If they aren’t equal, then one colour will come out more when you frost your cupcakes.

3. Test the icing before your frost your cupcakes to make sure it comes out perfect.

4. Carefully swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

To purchase Love Bakery’s recipe book ‘Cupcakes from the Heart’, check out Amazon.

Paddy Power Transgender Ad

17 May

News Bite

The banned Paddy Power ‘Ladies’ Day Ad’

 

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has launched an investigation after receiving in excess of 300 complaints stating that a recent advert was offensive towards transgendered people. The bookmaker Paddy Power released a new ad for Ladies’ Day ahead of a major horse race, with transgender cast members and an invitation for viewers to distinguish the ‘stallions from the mares’, encouraging the audience to guess the gender of the trans people involved in the advert. ASA argues that through turning their actors’ gender status into a game, Paddy Power’s advert, broadcast during Sky Sport’s popular Soccer Saturday, reinforced and invoked common negative stereotypes of trans people and ‘encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment.’

To find out more information about ASA’s investigation, the impact and implications of this advert and the response of Paddy Power, visit the BBC and the Guardian.

Hillary Clinton receives first World LGBT Award

17 May

News Bite

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Secretary Clinton giving her speech on LGBT rights at United Nations in Geneva

The US Secretary of State will receive the first ‘World LGBT Award’ at WorldPride London this summer. The award, which will be a joint presentation from The Kaleidoscope Trust and London Pride, is to honour Clinton for her public support for the LGBT community and the international attention she has brought to LGBT rights, through her speech at the United Nations in Geneva last December. This speech was a significant milestone in combating the criminalisation of homosexuality. The award will be presented at a gala evening during the World Pride event, which aims to raise awareness of those suffering persecution because of their sexuality.

World Pride is doing an amazing thing for the LGBT community, and we believe recognition for those supporting the cause is always welcomed. To read more about Secretary Clinton’s work supporting the LGBT community and further information on World Pride, check out GayUK News, WorldPride London and the Telegraph.

The Finca Malacara A: The Coffee, The Country, The Community

5 May

image courtesy of flickr.com

The Finca Malacara Farm in Santa Ana, El Salvador is home to Monmouth’s delicious Finca Malacara A, a medium bodied coffee bean with yellow cherry and honey notes.  Malacara translates to ‘bad face’ but there’s nothing bad about this coffee, which is full of spicy fruit and sweetness that we can’t resist!

Why you’ll love drinking it:

This particular bean is honey processed, and has a luxurious buttery texture with a smooth toffee finish.  The coffee has top notes of cedar and spice, and deeper notes of stone fruit as the coffee develops in the cup.

Why it’s worth the artisan cost:

The coffee bean is picked by the selective picking method, and the coffee pickers will revisit the coffee plants, picking only the best cherries and then going back over to get the other cherries when they are ripe.  This isn’t the most efficient method: using the stripping’ method would mean all the beans were picked even if they are unripe.  But it means that they can produce a better yield of crop and they get the best out of their coffee beans, so that we can too. The Finca Malacara coffee plantation is in a zone of the Santa Ana Volcano which has been called ‘the golden coffee belt’ due to the extraordinary quality produced by the local coffee plantations.  So what better place to go to for our mouth-watering coffee than here?

So who produces it?

The Finca Malacara coffee plantation has been owned and managed by the Alvarez family since 1889, and has been split into three separate areas, Malacara A, B, and C.  The Alvarez family have always been seen as outstanding employers, providing good support systems and benefits to their workers.  Don Rafael Alvarez Lalinde, the founder of Finca Malacara, saw the quality of life for the workers at the Alvarez estate as the most important factor in the Alvarez work ethic.

More than just an Americano:

The Alvarez plantation continues Don Rafael’s outstanding example by providing permanent workers with a decent home, food, a health clinic, a school for children and leisure activities such as football.  This gesture of good will and keeping the staff in good living conditions is extended to seasonal workers during the busy harvest period, and the benefits are also extended to visiting coffee pickers and their families as well as receiving a salary much higher than is required by law.  The Alvarez family provide such a fantastic support system and benefit package for their workers, making them an important part of the local community.

And it’s not just the workers that get looked after! The coffee plantation contributes to the environmental and ecological balance by guaranteeing preservation of the existing flora and fauna in the local area.  As well as this, chemical products are used cautiously to prevent any harm to the environment or the workers’ health.  The well-being of the plantation’s workers is at the forefront of the Alvarez work ethic, and this care and consideration for the coffee pickers and their local environment is why they produce such a high quality, high standard coffee bean that tastes delicious! Finca Malacara A is the product of this family’s centuries of hard work – why not check it out yourself?

The Cake and Bake Show

30 Apr

This autumn, London will host the first Cake and Bake Show, a two-day live event exhibiting the art, science and world of baking.  On the 22nd – 23rd September 2012, head to Earls Court for tasting sessions, how-to presentations, guest speakers, stalls, a special chocolate area and even a tea room, created in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support.

You can try your hand at sugar-craft, take part in a variety of other workshops,  sample some freshly baked delights or listen to your favourite bakers talk about their passion.   Fans of  ‘The Great British Bake Off’ will see the familiar faces of both judges and contestants,  including Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

Whether you are an amateur home-baker, a professional in the business or just a lover of cakes, this is definitely one to add to the calendar!  Just visit  their site for more information and to book your tickets!

Reach Out and Touch Me

26 Apr

Head to Shoreditch this week between the 26-29th of April for ‘Reach Out and Touch Me’, an exciting new performance from Outbox, an all-LGB theatre company. Outbox focuses on dramatising the untold stories of the LGB community in a dynamic and interesting format.

With the aim of bringing people and their ideas together in a creative and enjoyable way, Outbox uses theatre to bring the LGB community together, and acts as a social platform for all generations of LGB people, which is something we feel is an amazing cause!

‘Reach Out and Touch Me’ examines what it is to be part of a community, how we connect to each other and the true definition of the lesbian and gay culture, all in the fantastic location of the vaults of Shoreditch Town Hall.

Tickets are free, so it’s a perfect opportunity to explore the LGB community and have an evening of cultural amusement. We are all excited to see it, and think you’ll enjoy it too, so visit  http://www.outboxlgb.com/ for more information and to book your tickets.

What’s in a name?

24 Apr

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

The cappuccino is the one of the most popular drinks in coffee shops all over the UK, but how much do we really know about where this tasty coffee based beverage comes from? What exactly is a cappuccino and what brought this delicious drink to our coffee tables today?

The cappuccino originated in Italy in the early 1900s, and had developed into the drink we know today by the 1950s.  As one of Italy’s most popular coffee exports, the cappuccino is a strong contender for the world’s coffee favourite.  Constructed with precision and care, a shot of dark, rich espresso is given a helping of hot milk and topped off with beautifully crafted steamed milk foam.  It can be served with a dusting of chocolate or left a blank canvas, but either way it is certainly a delicious-tasting, delicious-sounding beverage.

But the history of the cappuccino dates further back than just a century ago. The naming of the cappuccino comes from the Capuchin, or ‘cappuccini’ in Italian, monks in Italy in the early 16th century.  Legend has it that the cappuccino was named as such because the milk added to the coffee created a shade of brown that resembled the robes of the Capuchin monks.  So we have thanks to give to the monks in Italy for the name of such a delicious drink!

In the UK, this popular Italian import is seen throughout the day; a morning pick me up, an afternoon treat with friends or an after dinner alternative to a dessert.  In Italy, however, the idea of the post-breakfast cappuccino is considered a sin!  The cappuccino -either alone or with a delicious pastry accompaniment- is seen to be the ideal breakfast, and drinking milk after the morning is something most Italians would never contemplate!  Don’t let that put you off reaching for the coffee cup though –  we feel everyone should enjoy coffee anytime, anywhere and for any reason.

Whether you like yours wet (a cappuccino chairo) or dry (a cappuccino scuro) there’s no question that the cappuccino is here to stay in cafés and on coffee tables all over the world.